Fire Hazards

by: Lisa Conway

  • Q: Is my jar candle really a fire hazard if I’m just taking a nap?

    A: Temperatures have finally dropped below 80 degrees, so it’s officially winter in Florida. Along with the refreshing change of the season, it’s time for a reminder about fire safety in the home. Many thanks to Brevard County Fire Rescue District Chief, James Conway, for his help with these tips.

    Portable space heaters are great for heating small areas when used wisely. Make sure the unit is placed on a level nonflammable surface at least three feet from items such as drapes, bedding, or carpet. Never, ever leave a space heater unattended. And it should automatically turn off if the unit falls over. If your space heater doesn’t do this– replace it.

    Cooking (or frying) incidents are the leading cause of house fires. Ruining dinner will be the least of your worries if a fire breaks out in the kitchen. Remain nearby while cooking and use a timer. And if you’ve been drinking or feel sleepy, leave the cooking to someone else.

    Are you a senior smoker? Smoking is the #1 cause of home fires that kill older adults. Never light up when you are lying down, drowsy, or in bed.

    Candles are another hot topic (yes, I just did that). They create a nice ambience and can smell amazing, but– NEVER leave candles unattended (that includes napping). And of course be careful with placement near combustibles. Flameless candles are a great option.

    Another common hazard this time of year are overloaded, outdated, or damaged extension cords. If the extension cord becomes hot during use, it is a warning sign that it may be overloaded. Discard damaged or old cords. They can rapidly overheat and start a fire.

    Fire safety experts agree: working smoke detectors are a must for your home. Test them and replace the batteries regularly. Replace all the smoke detectors in the house every 10 years. More than half of all fire related deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarm. Back up and read that last sentence again.